Maria Valdovinos

Maria Valdovinos

Maria started dancing folklorico when she was 11 years old. At the age of 19 she decided it was time to start her own group. She started it with only 7 students and slowly it started growing. Currently she has over 50 students, and 3 student teachers with 6 different classes offered in Stockton and in Tracy. She is also a teacher for one of the largest Folklorico Dance Workshop known as Danzantes Unidos Festival that happens for one weekend, once a year; this year they had over 1500 students’ patriciate in the workshops.  Aside from teaching Mexican Folklorico classes, she also works a full time job as the Registrar and soccer coach for a Charter School in Stockton CA. During her spare time she likes to spend time with my family, get involved with her church, play soccer, and travel.

For more information about Ballet Folklorico Raices Mexicanas de Maria Valdovinos, please visit!

Amanda Trask

Amanda Trask is a local artist who has received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with a focus in Mixed Media and minor in Art History from California State University, Stanislaus. Amanda creates work using different media such as sculpture, painting, digital (computer), and film. Her work has been seen within various galleries in Stanislaus County and she is a published artist.

Amanda’s goal through her courses is to bring, not only the joy of creating art, but also the tools to allow individuals to learn about the medium, its uses, and how to create/expand on projects even after completing the course.  Through her educational background and self-taught explorations with art, Amanda hopes that every person that comes through her class is able to gain a foundation for exploring the medium themselves and ways to bring out their creativity using various methods and techniques.

Amanda enjoys working with children and has taking several Child Development courses when she was pursuing her Associate Degree. She is also a mother to a 14-year-old son who is on the autism spectrum and encourages anyone, regardless of their abilities, to take her courses! She would be more than happy to adapt the coursework towards the needs of any individual. The courses she will be instructing for children are designed to be fun, informative, and create a foundation to help students continue to discover art.

Amanda started teaching classes with the Arts Education Program at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts in 2017.  She has taught a variety of classes throughout the years including but not limited to ceramic, fused glass, drawing, painting, sensory art classes, and Paint Night events.

Sean Totanes

Growing up in Tracy, California, Sean had a passion for all forms of entertainment such as movies, tv, music & animation. Since entering the movie/tv industry in 2013, he has worked all over the United States, developing a specialty in the art department. As either an art director, graphic designer or storyboard artist, he applies his talent in illustration, cinematic knowledge and design theories on set and in studios. He has worked for Food Network, Investigation Discovery, Paramount Pictures, and various independent filmmakers.  Sean’s work can be seen featured in various independent films, music videos and shows such as recent Netflix’s hit show, “13 Reasons Why”.


On this film-making course, he hopes to inspire students to find their own route in expressing themselves in his favorite medium.


Jenny Taloa

Jenny Kini Taloa is an accomplished award winning Tahitian dancer with over 20 years experience in Polynesian performing arts. She has traveled within the islands of the pacific and beyond performing for cruise ships, NFL charities, corporate and celebrity events.

Jenny’s main focus is to bring the Polynesian culture to the community for children 5 years old and up through dance art expression.

Melanie Smith

Melanie Smith is a ceramic artist and a member of the Tracy Art League. A longtime regular at the Grand’s ceramics lab, she enjoys sharing the craft with fellow potters and newcomers.

Melanie’s focus is functional ceramics, including wheel throwing and hand building. Her first exposure to throwing pots was at the Crafts Center as an undergraduate at University of California, San Diego. She has also learned from many instructors and ceramics techs over the years at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts, and she continues to explore new forms and techniques.

Deborah Skinner

Deborah earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of California at Irvine and her Master’s Degree from Mills College in Oakland.  She is owner of the Academy of Performing Arts in Tracy, recently incorporated to APA of Tracy, Inc.  She is founder and Artistic Director of the Children’s Dance Theatre of Tracy, and is also the founder and co-director of the Heartwork’s Early Education Preschool, an inclusion preschool that partners with Tracy Unified’s Side-by-Side Inclusion Preschool and San Joaquin County Office of Education.  Deborah is a member and past president of Dance Masters of America and is the author of DMA’s preschool and children’s dance education syllabus and teaching manual.  She has been recognized by the Tracy Chamber of Commerce as entrepreneur of the year along with being recognized by the US Congress and House of Representatives as a woman who has made a difference.

Deborah has taught nearly 45 years and is an advocate of all fine, performing, and visual arts and the power of said art to change, motivate, and better lives.  She feels most blessed to have a wonderful, supportive husband and family.  And has been so fortunate to have had her life’s work be a vocation as well as an avocation.

Viktor Rheims

Viktor Rheims is a member of the Tracy Art League, an illustrator, author, and art instructor. His book “Rediscovering Our Creative Mind: Digital Arts Drawing and Painting with Viktor” is published by Covenant Books.

He used to be a designer for a printing company overseas and eventually conducted his own art business of providing shirt designs, logo creation, photo editing, and printing services. With a desire to impart the knowledge, he developed his digital art instructional material and teaching style that both focus on what the learners’ need – subject analysis, layout, and proportionality. The goal is to make learners realize that drawing and painting are not just for the gifted; they are also skills that can be acquired.

“Gadgets, such as tablets and cell phones, are not just for social media. Let me help you revive your artistic capability. My instructional material will give you the skills you will truly appreciate – for personal or professional use.” – Viktor Rheims

Julia Rapoza

Julia Rapoza received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Iowa. She volunteered as a house parent at a home for girls and taught basic literacy to adolescents in a vocational school in Santiago, Chile, shortly after the military dictator, Augusto Pinochet stepped down from power. She includes social justice in her approach to teaching. She founded and directed an after school Spanish program in Austin, Texas in a blue-ribbon school district. She has taught Grades K-5, Junior High and High School Spanish in a variety of diverse environments. She has studied in Guanajuato, Mexico and Brazil.


“My goal in life is to spread greater happiness through friendships, fairness and understanding. Among the tools I use, are fun, friendship, songs and games in Spanish.”

-Julia Rapoza

Natalie Pyers

Natalie Pyers is a member of the Tracy Art League, and she comes to us with many years of professional experience as an Art Instructor in various medias including ceramics, watercolors, acrylics, colored pencils, and fused glass. She has experience working with young and older adults, as well as children.

Natalie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art/Studio Art and her Masters of Science in Education/Educational Leadership. Natalie is a retired school teacher who started teaching ceramic classes at the Grand in 2017.

“My life’s work is to create art. My purpose and passion is to be creative, help other people find their artistic talent, and inspire emerging artists. I’m grateful every day for such a fulfilling opportunity.” – Natalie Pyers